Why did my husband cheat if he loves me? Was this a mistake we can come back from?
This is another of those questions that I am asked all the time, and the answer is that cheating and his love for you are often two separate things in his head. It is sadly the case that many spouses who cheat do really love their wives and value their marriage but they separate the two things. The person who is cheated can find this nearly impossible to believe and so the circle of blame begins.
When a husband cheats on you it is not always about you, it is about him and what he wants and thinks, it is often compartmentalized in a way that you as a wife find difficult to wrap your head around. Intimacy with another woman is a betrayal and for you, it can feel completely like a betrayal of your love.
The hardest thing about a betrayal like this is that as a wife you can feel that it is a rejection of you. It can feel that you are not good enough, not thin enough, not smart enough, not young enough, so all you do is compare yourself to the other woman and decide that he wanted something you are not. There are so many more things that drive cheating it is not a direct comparison to you, that often doesn’t even feature in your husband’s thinking.
Common Reasons Men Give for Cheating
When I work with couples after an affair I hear the same phrases over and over from spouses who cheat I hope that sharing some of these with you, will help you see the same patterns I see when I help people through this. Husbands who have cheated will often say;
I don’t really know how it happened it just did
I was lonely and she was just there
She needed me
Because I could
I didn’t mean it to go anywhere it was just harmless at first
She was flirting with me, It made me feel good
It can help to understand why it happened if that helps to repair the marriage., however often there is no straightforward answer. If a man can’t explain it to himself he cannot explain it to you. Either way, you then have a choice, you can forgive and move on, slowly, or you can give up on it. Many who decide to fix it can do just that, but picking at the scab forever will not bring healing.
Coming to a place where you understand that this is about the two of you and you want to get that right is the best starting point for moving forward, and you can do that if you make that choice.
These are much better signs than things cheaters say to hide an affair. If your husband is being open about the situation you’ve passed the first barrier many couples face when trying to get their marriage back on track. While this can feel like a raw nerve to talk about, the marriages which survive infidelity are the ones that do talk about it.
Note: Obviously, I don’t know you or your marriage. My advice here is going to be based on the general things I see when husbands cheat and what it can mean. If you want to get things back on track quickly and focus on your marriage then take the marriage assessment quiz.
Can Your Husband Still Love You If He Cheats?
Strange as it may seem the answer is often yes a cheating spouse can still love his wife. In fact often after an affair and it all blowing when the husband realizes what he stands to lose he can understand just how much he loves his wife. this is the start point for repairing the marriage.
Men can often cheat and think that it doesn’t matter because they are not being unfaithful in their hearts, it is meaningless therefore it doesn’t count. It does count, it is a grievous injury, and when all this is out in the open and the hurt is there to see it can be a bit of a shock to the husband who probably thought he would never get caught and was only cheating but not changing his love for you. Often men think no harm no foul, what you don’t know won’t hurt you and they do not intend to hurt you. When he says he loves you he means it. In his head, the two are entirely separate issues.
For you to understand this is nearly impossible separating love and sex for men is often easier than for women. Sleeping with someone else can be something your husband doesn’t equate as an affair, it can be a one-off, something that just happened and they can’t even explain it to themselves. It often does not affect how they feel about you.
What If He Loves the Other Woman?
Love rarely comes into the cheating scenario, but it can. If he is in love with another woman then you have a different ball game. in this case, if he says he loves you too and this is not uncommon, he has a choice to make, you both do. If you believe his love for you is worth fighting for then that is what you must do.
This is a much tougher route than an affair that is just about sex opportunity a bit of a diversion etc. If the other woman is someone he values or loves then he really does have a dilemma.
Here it is straightforward he chooses one or the other, if you both want to fight for your marriage then he has to agree not to see her again, and you need to be sure of this and trust him on this. All this can be done but above all transparency and honesty are needed. A therapist can really help couples get through this.
How Can You Tell If Your Husband Really Loves You?
This is the age-old question that only you can really answer. Do you feel loved? Then it is likely that your husband is showing you love. If you don’t feel loved perhaps you need to really think about what sorts of things you would like your husband to do so that you feel loved.
I often prompt couples who are in trouble to think about the sorts of things they did together when the love was new or when it was strongest. I ask people to write down examples of when they felt loved, this is usually because of a simple thing the other spouse did. These are the things you need in your marriage, often they become forgotten in the mists of time, and the affair takes the spouse back there to those easier times.
Everyone wants to feel loved in their marriage and when you are passing through a tough time, especially after an affair this is writ large. You need and deserve to feel love and your husband needs to understand how to make this happen, how to show how much he loves you. This works both ways.
It can be simply that you have stopped saying I love you, to each other, for some men they genuinely believe that you just know that that they shouldn’t have to say it
Women often tell me they know their husband still loves them because he tries to do things that please them. Most women say they feel like their husband loves them because he pays attention to them and touches them when they talk, they feel they are loved because he listens and says how he feels
You can often tell your husband loves you when he listens to you, you feel listened to when he tells you how he is feeling, and how he feels about you. When you think about all the good things that made you feel loved you need to capture those and bring them back, this is where the playbook of love personal to you both comes in.
Writing Your Own Playbook of Love
If you are going to stay married you want that marriage to be a happy one. Something has gone wrong, don’t expect it to spontaneously right itself, you both have to work to fix it. You will know he loves you when he shows it, and the problem here is that you are hypervigilant for his lack of love, you are looking for signs of a lack of love.
You are in need now of things that your husband says and does that show that he loves you and they better come fast and thick. Trusting that love is there is really difficult right now for you, understandably, and your husband needs to do now what you now expect from him to right this situation.
Actions speak louder than words and you need to agree on the sorts of things you need your husband to do to show you right now that you are the one he loves.
Going back and talking about the sorts of things you used t do for each other in the early days can help bring some of that into play right now. Little signs and rituals old or new can help bring that feeling of security back.
It might be you agree on each other’s phones being shared more so that trust is built up, it might be a kiss when you leave the house, it could be romantic breaks, time for the two of you date night, whatever combination or other things that for you say that you are number one, agree on them.
This playbook can set a standard, a way of being that can help both of you feel happier that you two are safe and on firmer ground.
Can Your Marriage Survive?
Roughly 40% of marriages survive infidelity in general. If you’re asking why did my husband cheat if he loves me? Your chances are even better. There are still signs your husband loves you, you’ve both acknowledged the affair and as long as at least one of you are trying, you can work to get back to where you were.
The old phrase ‘once a cheater, always a cheater’ doesn’t meet reality. Many marriages can take an event like this as a wake-up call.
How Do Husbands Feel After They Cheat?
When I talk to husbands who have cheated on their wives they invariably feel remorse and deep regret anger at themselves. The husbands I am speaking to are those who are trying to repair the damage they have done to their marriages so it is no surprise that they regret everything they have done.
An affair is never worth the loss of a marriage and however enjoyable the affair has been at some point some men report that even when they were having the affair, even when they were with the other woman a part of them felt bad for being there, knew they wanted to leave.
The affair is always tainted and lesser than the relationship they have with you and they know it lacks commitment and depth and whilst this is attractive it is somehow lesser.
In part, this is why men can separate the two relationships, because they never compare the two. As a wife, you feel compared but this is just never the case in reality.
When it all comes out, the cheater always knows they are in the wrong and the power now lies with the wife to let them back into the marriage. This is not a powerful place to be and they often feel powerless and needing guidance.
At Some Point His Feelings Matter
Understanding how your husband feels is often the last thing on your mind, you will not feel like asking or caring when you are still dealing with the betrayal and your heart is broken and you can feel lost and angry. The last thing on your mind is having any empathy for how your husband feels.
At some point though you will have to pay attention to him and his needs and feelings so that you can pay attention to the two of you going forward together.
When he says he loves you it has to be heard and you must be able to hear it and to believe it for you to move on as a couple.
Living in a state of shame and blame for the rest of your life is not a good prospect, if there is no forgiveness and o getting past this, it is not an attractive place to stay.